Viruses in Drinking Water

Viruses, the smallest of drinking water contaminants and the most difficult to detect, are responsible for approximately 50% of groundwater related diseases worldwide. Each year, it is estimated that four billion people fall victim to waterborne illnesses from viruses and 1.8 million, mostly children, die from the effects of these illnesses.

Viruses tend to be resistant to chlorination and other common forms of water filtration and have become the focus of new legislation enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency. As of January 8th, 2007, the new Ground Water Rule under the Safe Drinking Water Act specifically targets viruses for removal from our drinking water.

How do they get into Drinking Water?

Viruses occur naturally in the water, soil, and air, and our bodies are constantly working to keep these creatures in check. When we do become ill from viruses, we generally attribute our discomfort to the �flu� as the symptoms are very similar. The most common way that viruses enter our drinking water is from contact with fecal waste from humans and livestock. Especially heavy rainfall will overwhelm older public water systems and cause raw sewage to overflow into ground water as well as runoff from livestock feedlots.

Common Viral Contaminants

These viruses are the most common culprits for viral drinking water contamination and their effects vary from mild intestinal discomfort to serious and life-threatening illnesses.


Although traditional water filtration methods have been somewhat ineffective for removing viruses from drinking water, there are emerging technologies that have shown tremendous promise. Researchers at the University of Delaware have developed a water filtration method that uses reactive elemental iron which eliminates 99.999 % of not only viruses, but also bacteria and other pathogens.

The simplest way that you can prevent viral contamination in your home is by instructing your family to practice strict hand washing procedures after using the bathroom. This easy and very effective habit will significantly reduce your chances of becoming ill and spreading the virus to others.